Thursday, January 21, 2010

Part 5, Chapter 4 - Radiation = Bad

Jonnie has deduced that there must be uranium in the western mountains, since the Psychlos aren't mining there - and although they might not be mining due to a lack of valuable minerals over there, or because they've already mined the place out, or because expanding isn't in this year's budget, Jonnie is of course correct.

So he wants to learn more about uranium. Problem is, the Chinkos' magical learning machines don't cover what they think a Psychlo would already know. So Jonnie takes a gamble and asks Terl for man-books about the mountains. For some reason, Terl obliges him with a pile of antique texts, confident that nothing the human could learn from them could possibly be a threat.

I thought this guy was supposed to be cunning, suspicious, and paranoid?

Jonnie discovers that the humans and Psychlos had quite different periodic tables, and gives up trying to reconcile them. "He was a man of action, not a Chinko!" Ah, L. Ron's casual, innocent racism.

He eventually finds uranium mentioned as a poison in a book on mine toxicology. Jonnie reads about the symptoms - rashes, hair loss, mutations - and suddenly realizes why everyone in his valley is deformed and stupid instead of just stupid. They're being poisoned by radiation! Even though there's not an old uranium mine nearby... waitaminute, how does he know exactly where his village is? Does he have a perfect memory and excellent map skills? Whatever.

He briefly considers the sun as the culprit, reminding us that yes, despite all his superhuman skills, Jonnie is still an idiot, but remembers that the mountain goats aren't all deformed and puts that hypothesis aside, ignoring the logic that if the sun were showering them with radiation then the entire Psychlo camp would have exploded by now. He then deduces that humans must have a way to detect radiation, learns about Geiger counters, and concludes that he could probably build one.

He finally put the books away and in the small hours fell into an exhausted sleep. He had nightmares. Chrissie mauled and smashed to bits. His people wasted and truly extinct. And the world of the Psychlos come alive and laughing at him.

At least he's got a realistic assessment of Chrissie's survival skills. Next time, we begin a sequence of events that will eventually involve things actually happening.

Back to Chapter Three

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